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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court finding that laches barred Plaintiff’s motion for a temporary injunction, sustaining a special plea in bar, and entering judgment in favor of a Corporation, holding that the circuit court erred in its interpretation of Va. Code. 13.1-724. Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that a letter of intent to sell assets of the Corporation to a third party buyer for $10 million were null and void because they violated section 13.1-724, which requires more than two-thirds shareholder approval for a disposition of of corporate assets that leaves a corporation without a significant continuing business. Plaintiff also sought a temporary injunction to stop the proposed sale until the circuit court could address the merits of the complaint. The Corporation responded by filing a special plea in bar. The circuit court denied Plaintiff’s emergency motion for an injunction, granting the plea in bar, and entered judgment in favor of the Corporation. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in its interpretation of section 13.1-724 and thus erred in entering judgment in favor of the Corporation; and (2) the circuit court abused its discretion when it found that laches barred Plaintiff’s request for a temporary injunction. View "May v. R.A. Yancey Lumber Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s determination that Defendant’s motion filed pursuant to the safety value provision of Va. Code 18.2-248(C), which provides potential relief from mandatory minimum sentences according to certain terms, was untimely and declining to rule on the merits, holding that the motion was timely and warranted consideration on the merits. The safety value provision provides for relief from mandatory sentences when the defendant truthfully provides all information and evidence concerning his offense to the Commonwealth not later than the time of the sentencing hearing. In this case, Defendant provided the required information concerning his offense immediately prior to the sentencing hearing. The trial court denied the motion, and Defendant received the mandatory sentences. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that disclosure was timely made to the Commonwealth, and therefore, the motion warranted consideration on the merits for the completeness and truthfulness of the disclosure as well as any further disclosure made to the Commonwealth before resentencing. View "Hall v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Appellant’s motion to amend her complaint to name the personal representative of her deceased husband’s estate as the proper party defendant and dismissing the action as time-barred, holding that the circuit court did not err. The decedent executed a holographic will that excluded his wife, Ray, as a beneficiary of his estate. Following her husband’s death, Appellant filed an action to claim her elective share of the augmented estate. The administratrix of the estate was not named as a party to the action. When Appellant realized the error, she requested that the circuit court enter an order adding the administratrix to the complaint as a party defendant. The circuit court denied the motion and dismissed the action as time-barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant failed to identify the proper party defendant in the complaint as filed; and (2) Appellant was time-barred from bringing a new and proper action against the estate’s personal representative. View "Ray v. Ready" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court in sustaining the demurrer filed by ALG Trustee, LLC and dismissing Appellant’s second complaint with prejudice, holding that Appellant’s allegations were sufficient to survive a demurrer. Appellant alleged in this complaint that ALG Trustee had breached its fiduciary duty as trustee under a deed of trust. Ultimately, the trial court sustained the demurrer filed by ALG Trustee. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court erred in mischaracterizing Appellant’s claim as a common law negligence claim because Appellant’s claim sounded in contract, not tort; and (2) the trial court erred in concluding that ALG Trustees had no duties beyond those set forth in the deed of trust. View "Crosby v. ALG Trustee, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this appeal of a judgment in a will contest the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion to strike the evidence and holding that the evidence was sufficient as a matter of law to support the jury’s verdict that the will was the result of undue influence, holding that the trial court should have granted Defendant’s motion to strike the evidence at the close of all evidence. The complaint in this case sought to impeach a will on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. At the close of the evidence Defendant filed a motion to strike the evidence. The trial court granted the motion to strike as to testamentary capacity but overruled it as to undue influence. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to support an allegation of undue influence. View "Parson v. Miller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court held that Virginia’s Dead Man’s Statute, Va. Code 8.01-397, permits admission of a decedent’s hearsay statements offered by the defense in a personal injury action brought against the decedent’s estate and that the circuit court did not err in refusing to vacate the jury’s verdict of no damages when the estate conceded liability. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in admitting hearsay testimony recounting the decedent’s description of the collision under the Dead Man’s Statute; and (2) the circuit court did not err in refusing to set aside the jury’s verdict of no damages as contrary to the law and evidence presented. View "Shumate v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals sustaining Defendant’s conviction for voluntary manslaughter, holding that the Court of Appeals did not err when it found the evidence was sufficient to uphold the conviction. A jury found Defendant guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Defendant filed a motion to set aside the jury’s verdict based on insufficient evidence to prove the elements of the offense of voluntary manslaughter. The trial court denied the motion, finding that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Court of Appeals did not err in affirming Appellant’s conviction of voluntary manslaughter because the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. View "Smith v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court, reinstated the determination of the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), and entered final judgment for the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County, holding that the circuit court erred when it held that Va. Code 15.2-2307(D) creates a vested right to an originally illegal use of a building or structure after the owner has paid taxes to the locality for that building or structure for fifteen years or more. Defendants owned real property located in McLean, Virginia. The Fairfax County Zoning Administrator issued a notice of violation (NOV) to Defendants regarding the property because a detached garage and garden house locate on the property had been converted to dwelling, resulting in three complete and separate dwellings on the property. Defendants appealed the NOV to the BZA, arguing that the garage and garden house were grandfathered. The BZA concluded that Defendants were in violation of the relevant ordinance. The circuit court reversed, holding that the nonconforming structures were protected under section 15.2-2307(D)(iii). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in holding that 15.2-2307(D) protected Defendants’ illegal use of their garden house and garage. View "Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County v. Cohn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming Defendant’s convictions on three counts of violating Va. Code 18.2-181 without reviewing the merits of his assignment of error and reinstated the judgment of the circuit court, holding that the circuit court’s determination of Defendant’s guilt was not plainly wrong or without support in the evidence. The Court of Appeals affirmed Defendant’s convictions on three counts of larceny by worthless check without reaching the merits of his assignment of error challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction. The Court of Appeals held that Defendant’s assignment of error was not preserved for appeal in the circuit court under the requirements of Rule 5A.18. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the Court of Appeals and reinstated the judgment of the circuit court, holding (1) this Court assumes, without deciding, the the circuit court’s ruling on the motion to vacate Defendant’s convictions was properly before the Court of Appeals; and (2) the evidence was sufficient as a matter of law to support Defendant’s convictions. View "McGinnis v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Upon consideration of Darnell Phillips’ petition for a writ of actual innocence, Respondent’s motion to dismiss, and Phillips’ motion for a nonsuit, the Supreme Court decided that the writ of actual innocence will not issue, the motion for nonsuit will be denied, and the petition will be dismissed. Phillips challenged his convictions for abduction with intent to defile, rape, forcible sodomy, and malicious wounding. After testing conducted by a private laboratory and resulting report submitted by a forensic scientist, Phillips filed his current petition for a writ of actual innocence. Thereafter, the Supreme Court decided In re Brown, 295 Va. 202, 225 (Va. 2018). Because the holding was not favorable to Phillips, he moved to nonsuit his petition. The Supreme Court denied the motion for nonsuit and dismissed the petition for writ of actual innocence, holding (1) Phillips’ petition was not a civil action to which the nonsuit statute applies; and (2) the petition must be dismissed for failure to state a claim. View "In re Phillips" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law